University of Puget Sound affirms unequivocally that Black lives matter. We stand against racism and discrimination, and with all who strive to make our campus community and the broader world more just, humane, inclusive, and welcoming.
Our college was founded in 1888, little more than two decades after the Juneteenth proclamation on June 19, 1865, that marked the end of slavery in the United States. We acknowledge that racism and its dehumanizing effects remain present to this day, on our campus, in our community, and throughout our nation.
Our mission, our values, and our shared humanity call us to not only denounce anti-Black racism in all its forms—overt and insidious, structural and systemic, personal and pervasive—but to bring it to an end. We at University of Puget Sound unambiguously affirm, in the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
To this day, University of Puget Sound remains a predominantly white institution. In the current historic moment, as a collective wakening in our country takes hold, we renew our commitment to deconstruct racial and ethnic systems of exclusion; achieve social justice for all who live, work, and learn on our campus; and to be agents of change.
Actions We Will Take
We will undertake the following immediately:
- Convene a President’s Advisory Panel on Racism. We will bring together campus leaders throughout 2020-21 to focus on implementation of initiatives to support the Leadership for a Changing World strategic plan. This work includes supporting the development of the Legacies Project, a university-wide set of activities, practices, and curricular initiatives that will empower students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the broader community to understand and learn from the diverse histories that have shaped our region, and to acknowledge the role that the university has played. We also will support moving forward with the Eugenics Conference and the formation of the Committee to Recommend Principles on Renaming University Buildings and Spaces, both of which were deferred during the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Accelerate our work to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our mission and values of justice compel us to be more assertive in our pursuit to stamp out systemic racism and to create an institution and a society where everyone is respected and valued.
- Conduct a search for a Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. To focus, support, and champion our efforts campuswide, a search for this new role began in fall 2020. To ensure that we continue to move forward on our goals in the interim, the President and Cabinet members have committed to Actions to Support Diversity and Anti-Racism Initiatives.
- Analyze our practices around renaming of university spaces and buildings. We will support the formation of the Committee to Recommend Principles on Renaming University Buildings and Spaces, which was deferred in spring 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Expand education and professional development. Expand the range of training opportunities for faculty, staff, and students related to inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism. Each division of the university will identify and undertake professional development, trainings, or other learning opportunities specific to their areas to build competencies, broaden awareness, and effect positive change on our campus and in the broader community.
Selected Anti-Racism-Related Initiatives
Through broad-based collaboration, the university’s ongoing initiatives include:
- The Race and Pedagogy Institute (2002), with national conferences in 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018
- The Black Student Union (1967), the first chapter in Washington state, and Black Alumni Union (2014)
- African American Studies major (first offered in 1996–97 as a minor) and the Knowledge, Identity, and Power graduation requirement (2015–16)
- Establishing the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (2007)
- Development and launch of the university’s first diversity strategic plan (2006), followed by the more recent Threshold 2022: Cultivating a Culture of Inclusive Excellence
- The Diversity Advisory Council, a broad-based group of campus leaders committed to advancing strategic work related to diversity and inclusion, including a regular campus climate survey
- The Bias-Hate Emergency Response Team
- Expansion of the appointment of persons of color, particularly Black persons, in executive leadership roles, including at the level of president, vice president, and board of trustees
- Educational and scholarship programs to support students of color and those of other backgrounds underrepresented in higher education, including the Tacoma Public Schools Commitment (2014) and partnership with The Posse Foundation (2015) as its first partner college in the Pacific Northwest
- Steady gains in the recruitment of students of color, although recruitment of Black students continues to fall short of institutional goals
Additional Resources for Support
These are challenging and stressful times. Students are encouraged to reach out to Counseling, Health, and Wellness Services for support; faculty and staff members may wish to contact the Employee Assistance Program. Other essential resources in addition to the above include: